Chasing the shiny

I just read a fabulous blog post by Jennifer Crusie that has made me feel a great deal better about my scatter-brained, continually distracted work ‘method’.

She describes cognitive disinhibition and how the inability to ‘stay on topic’ and the tendency to get distracted by – and the inclination to search out –  shiny things floating past in the periphery of our lives, aren’t a hinderance to creativity but an essential part of it.

As she (rather brilliantly) puts it: “Everything’s invited to the party in your head, so some pretty amazing things stagger out at the end of the night.”

[Fab Firefly picture is from CrunchGear. The reason for its use on this post?  ‘Shiny’ is used as slang by the characters in Firefly. Flimsy? Yes. Do I care? No.]

Book News: Jessie Hearts NYC by Keris Stainton

Keris Stainton is a relatively new voice on the YA book scene (her debut, Della Says OMG, was published last year), but she writes with such an assured voice it’s hard to believe she hasn’t been doing this forever.

Her second book, Jessie Hearts NYC is published on 7th July, and here’s the blurb:

Jessie’s just arrived in New York, hoping to forget about her awful ex.
New Yorker Finn is in love with his best friend’s girlfriend.
They might be perfect together, but in a city of eight million people, will they find each other?

Sounds good, no?

Okay, I admit it. I read this book while it was still in draft form as Keris is a friend of mine. Still, I wouldn’t tell you it was brilliant unless it were true. And it is.

To celebrate the book’s release, Keris has kindly agreed to be interviewed here – on this very blog. I will also be running a giveaway (of the book) in her honour.

Watch this space!

Mulling things over

Things have been quiet here on the blog and for that I can only apologise.I’m deep in the rewriting cave and consequently my brain is out-of-step with reality. The kids have to keep reminding me who they are (not really) and the level of cat hair in the house has reached epic proportions (sadly true).

Also, I took a week out for a family holiday to the beautiful island of Mull. My parents booked a lovely cottage in Carsaig Bay through Ecosse Unique and kindly invited us along.

After taking a ferry and driving for a couple of hours on some hair-raising single-track roads, we arrived at our very own bay. It was stunning: Waterfalls cascading down craggy cliffs cut with basalt columns, dense forest behind the cottage, and Highland cattle and deer grazing in the fields leading down to the rocky shoreline. The kids were in heaven and we had a fabulous week throwing rocks into the sea, building dams, making ‘land art’ and scrambling over giant boulders.

We also took a trip to Iona. Look at the white sand and blue sea. We had this beach to ourselves, too. *smug face*

I also got to enjoy one of those fabulous parental moments – one of those when you realise that you’ve just witnessed a golden memory being built. We were just getting off the boat from Iona when one of the ferry men motioned us over to the side and there, begging for scraps from a moored fishing boat, was a seal.

My daughter was entranced. She still can’t believe she got such a good look at a seal “in the wild”.

Right! Back to my cave…

Rewrite Hell

So, I’m adding lots of new words (doing the 50,000 in fifty day challenge), but I’m also rewriting the stuff I’ve got, trying to corral the skittish scenes into a cohesive whole.

As always, I’m wishing I had a different ‘process’ – one that was streamlined and efficient. I wish I didn’t splurge out a rubbish first draft and then spend months working out what on earth the whole thing’s supposed to be about. I wish I didn’t have to spend time writing all the stuff that is wrong in order to find the stuff that’s right, but I honestly don’t know how else to do it.

For the organisational, headache-inducing nightmare that is the rewrite, I’ve tried post-it notes and scribbling on a whiteboard, colour-coded spreadsheets, index cards and spider diagrams. Ultimately, it all comes down to the same thing: going through the manuscript over and over again, moving the pieces around, adding all the stuff I missed, and deleting the bad, the boring and the just plain wrong.

Although, writing-advice-addict that I am, I have spent the last hour studying Holly Lisle’s One-Pass Manuscript Revision (recommended by Keris, I think) which appears very sensible and comprehensive. Now I just need to make myself a cup of tea and apply it. Easy. (Sound of hollow laughter).

[Picture is of one of Proust’s manuscript pages, via Proustitute]